Last week, our governor released Massachusetts’ reopening plans, and our whole family sighed with disappointment. While coronavirus infections have slowed here in the Commonwealth, numbers are still high enough that Phase 1 of our state’s reopening plan looks little different from a stay at home order. For now, change will come at a pace that feels painfully slow. Certainly not the joyful, freeing release from quarantine for which we’d been hoping these last nine weeks.
Last week, we also marked ten months since Rob’s death. Life has not turned out as we had hoped either. Death, like coronavirus, has thrown us into a life we could not have imagined and never would have chosen. All of those feelings about coronavirus and quarantine — the frustration, anger, disappointment and sadness — we feel them every day as we navigate our life without Rob.
After ten months, I’ll be honest, I’m tired of doing this gig alone. I don’t need help with daily life; we’re managing fine. I just miss Rob. Deeply. I want him to come home to me. Nothing can fill the emptiness of his absence in our family. I look back at the life we had before quarantine, before death, and I want every moment back. I want the life that used to be. It was such a good one. “What’s the plan here, Jesus?” I wonder.
Lately, on my daily walks around my property, I’ve been asking God what he’s up to. I cry and vent and wonder. I’m the girl with the roadmap on her lap on a car trip; I like a plan. But ten months in, the one thing I’ve learned is that grief doesn’t have a preset course. There aren’t, in fact, seven stages of grief through which I’ll travel to reach healing. Grief, like pandemic, doesn’t have an easy solution. My life, no simple reopening plan.
As I learn to wait on the Lord, I love these hope-filled words from the prophet Isaiah, chapter 49.
The children born during your bereavement
will yet say in your hearing,
“This place is too small for us;
give us more space to live in.”
Then you will say in your heart,
“Who bore me these?
I was bereaved and barren;
I was exiled and rejected.
Who brought these up?
I was left all alone,
but these — where have they come from?”
Isaiah’s words remind me that even when I don’t understand his plan, God is still working. In my grief, he is quietly birthing new life that will someday fill me with its abundance. And one day, when I look back in wonder and ask, “Who bore me these?” the only answer will be Jesus. I was bereaved, exiled, left all alone. I couldn’t trace his hand, couldn’t see what his plan was in all of this. But he knew what he was doing all along. He was working for my good.
As we begin Phase 1 of our state’s reopening plan, I remind the kids that even if we don’t like its pace and limitations, we can trust that our governor is working hard to do what’s best for us. And as we start yet another month without Rob beside us, I choose to believe that God is good and we can trust him. We are never forgotten. We are engraved on the palms of his hands. Those who hope in [him] will not be disappointed.